Cruising DC Waters by Boat from the Wharf DC
Taking our boats out for a cruise from Gangplank Marina or Capital Yacht Club is exhilarating. The views from the Potomac and Anacostia rivers are beautiful. There are many options for destinations to cruise depending on what you want to see and do. However, when you live on a liveaboard boat there are a few more steps required to depart than just cranking the engine and going.
Taking liveaboard boats for cruises is especially exciting because of the fact that you are out on the open water with your house and all your belongings! Your are literally taking everything out to sea including the kitchen sink. Because of these factors, preparing to launch a liveaboard requires a few more steps than smaller cruisers.
I’ll describe here the steps we typically take to launch and get out on the waters of the DMV. Prior to launching, I check the day’s weather reports, especially the wind speed and direction forecast, and also the tides. These factors can dictate where we cruise to and when.
As I work through a checklist of steps my excitement builds. First, I shut off all the power to the boat and disconnect the power cable from land and switch over to battery power. This is the first indication that we are getting off the grid. We can go anywhere we want.
Next, I crank the engines. Port side first. Then I start the starboard engines. It’s exciting. The engines roll over, roar, the floorboard under my feet vibrates, and the exhaust puffs out a little smoke. For me, this is a time of excitement. I can tell that my boat, Sojourner, is also getting excited to head out, much like the way a dog is excited when it’s time for a walk.
With the engines purring, I head to the upper helm to turn on chartplotter and the VHS radio. After a brief safety discussion with my guests it’s time to throw the lines and back out of the slip. As I get the 45 foot Sojourner turned in the fairway, I straighten her out and head out of the marina.
As I approach the Washington Channel, I blast the ship’s horn, as required by law, to alert other boaters of our position as we enter the Channel. For any captain though, sounding that horn is a moment of pride and enjoyment. What it really signals is freedom and that the cruise has begun.
I turn the boat down the Washington Channel and head toward the Potomac River. The Channel is a no wake zone all the way so I keep the speed at 6kts and enjoy the views of Ft. McNair on the port side and East Potomac Park to the starboard side. Hains Point marks the confluence of the channel, the Anacostia, and Potomac rivers. There are often cross currents and heavy boat traffic.
At this stage, I have some nice options for where to cruise. I could turn to the port side and head up the Anacostia River. There are several marinas on the Anacostia and stopping at Navy Yard makes for a short but fun trip. National’s Park strikes a bold image on the waterfront and if there is a baseball game or a concert the roar of the crowd can easily be heard.
Another option is to head up the Potomac toward Georgetown. This cruise provides for remarkable sightseeing considerations including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument, and the Georgetown waterfront.
If I choose to head south on the Potomac we have a beautiful cruise past National Airport and can choose from easy options, to stop at Alexandria or the National Harbor.
DC has become a boater’s paradise and it’s fun to be able to take advantage of one of the truly unique options of what the DMV has to offer.